Skip to main content
Teacher Portal

This unit should be implemented to supplement student learning on the concepts of robotic arms and coding.

STEM Labs can be adapted in various ways to fit into any classroom or learning environment. Each STEM Lab includes the following 3 sections: Engage, Play, and Share (optional).

Each STEM Lab in this unit can be completed in as little as 40 minutes

Section Summary

The Engage and Play sections, which contain the primary learning activities, can be completed within 40 minutes. The Share section, which enables students to express their learning is optional, but estimated at around 3-5 minutes per group.

Click on the tabs below to view descriptions of the Engage, Play and Share sections of the STEM Lab.

The Pacing Guide

The pacing guide for each Lab provides step-by-step instructions on What, How, and When to teach. The STEM Lab Pacing Guide previews the concepts that are taught in each section (Engage, Play, and Share (optional)), explains how the section is delivered, and identifies all the materials that are needed.

Making This Unit Fit Your Unique Classroom Needs

Not every classroom is the same, and teachers face a variety of implementation challenges throughout the year. While each VEX GO STEM Lab follows a predictable format, there are things that you can do in this Unit to help make it easier to meet those challenges when they arise.

  • Implementing in less time:
    • Lab 1 can be completed in less time by presenting Play Part 1 as a guided demonstration, then have students complete the Play Part 2 activity in their groups.
    • To condense Lab 2 and implement in less time, have groups use the Motorized Robot Arm to move a Disk from one area to another on a GO Tile, then come together afterward to write instructions as a whole class.
    • Have students watch the Connecting To Your Robot and Configuring Your Robot tutorial videos to shorten the instruction in Lab 3.
    • To shorten this Unit with a focus on building and mechanics, teach Labs 1 and 2 only.
    • Implement this lab in less time with a more coding-oriented focus by just teaching Labs 3- 5. 
  • Reteaching Strategies:
    • Show students the Connecting Your Robot and Configuring your Robot tutorial videos to help students with these initial steps for coding a robot with VEXcode GO.
    • Review the Help feature for the [Spin for] and [Energize electromagnet] blocks with students to illustrate how to change parameters in these blocks.
    • Show students the Spin Base Example Project to illustrate how the [Spin for] block can be used to turn and lift the Robot Arm. Additionally, the Carrying a Disk Example Project can be used to show how to use the Electromagnet in a project to have the Robot Arm pick up, carry, then drop a Disk.
    • For students who need more support with understanding the cause and effect nature of the [Wait until] block, show them the Wait Until True tutorial video in VEXcode GO. This tutorial illustrates using a [Wait until] block with the Code Base build to have the robot complete an action until the condition (Eye Sensor detects an object) reports True. While the build in this tutorial is different from the Robot Arm, the video still effectively illustrates the project flow when using a [Wait until] block.
    • Have students use the Project Stepping Feature to walk through their projects one block at a time to better understand the project flow with the [Forever] and [If then] blocks and to help them troubleshooting as needed. Watch the Stepping Through Blocks Tutorial Video with students to show them how to use this feature.
  • Extending this Unit:
    • For more experience using the Robot Arm build, have students complete the Fishing for Facts Activity (Google Doc/.docx/.pdf). Have students 'fish' for multiplication facts or modify the activity to have the Robot Arm 'fish' for vocabulary words.
    • To provide more practice with using a magnet and encouraging vocabulary practice, have students complete the Definition in Action Activity (Google Doc/.docx/.pdf).
    • For an additional challenge for experienced coders, have students run the Pick Up a Disk Example project, which uses the [Set motor position] block to move the Robot Arm as it picks up, carries, and drops a Disk with the Electromagnet. Have students iterate on this project to have the Robot Arm move a Disk to a specific location on the Tile.
    • Use the Choice Board activities to extend the Unit, while allowing students to express their voice and choice in what activities they want to complete.
  • If students get done building at different times, there are a number of meaningful learning activities early finishers can participate in as the rest of the group finishes building. View this article for several suggestions about how to plan for engaging students who finish building earlier than others. From establishing classroom helper routines to completing short activities, there are many ways to keep all students engaged throughout class building time.

The following VEXcode GO resources support the coding concepts that are taught in this STEM Lab Unit. Above are some ways to use these resources to support your implementation needs from catching up for missed class time to remote learning and differentiation. Below is more information about these resources, so you can be confident and prepared for the suggested implementations or when using these resources to best suit your own unique teaching environment.

VEXcode GO Resources

Concept Resource Description

Connecting a GO Brain

Connecting to Your Robot

Tutorial Video

Demonstrates the steps to connect a VEX GO Brain to VEXcode GO.

Configuring a Robot

Configuring Your Robot

Tutorial Video

Shows the steps to configure a robot in VEXcode GO, and how this will populate blocks in the Toolbox that work with the chosen configuration.

Using the Help Feature

Using Help

Tutorial Video

Illustrates how to use the Help feature in VEXcode GO to learn the names and functions of blocks. Use the Help feature with the [Spin for] and [Energize electromagnet] blocks to learn more about how to change parameters in these blocks.

Project Flow

Wait Until True

Tutorial Video

Describes how the [Wait until] block is used with sensor data to control the flow of a project.

Project Flow

Stepping Through Blocks

Tutorial Video

Shows how to use the Stepping Feature to move through a project block by block through a project and see the robot’s behaviors and can help you slow down the flow of a project to better understand how it works, or where troubleshooting is needed. 

Coding the Robot Arm

Spin Base

Example Project

Illustrates how to use the [Spin for] block to raise the arm and spin the base of the Robot Arm.

Carrying a Disk with the Robot Arm

Carrying a Disk

Example Project

Demonstrates how to use the Electromagnet with the Robot Arm to pick up, spin, then drop a Disk. Use this with students to show how to use both the [Spin for] and [Energize electromagnet] blocks in a project together to have the Robot arm move Disks.

Picking up and Carrying a Disk with the Robot Arm

Pick Up a Disk

Example Project

Shows how to pick up and deliver a Disk to a specific location using the [Set motor position] block. Use this example project to extend the Unit for experienced coders.

Using VEXcode GO Help

You can use the Help feature together with your students as an additional means to explain how specific blocks are functioning in a project. After reading the description for, or with, your student, you can use the example shown for extra practice with that block. Ask students to describe what the robot will do in the project shown, and help them make connections to how that is similar or different to the project they are working on.

Blocks in this Unit include:

  • [Spin for]
  • [Energize electromagnet]
  • [Wait]
  • [Wait until]
  • <Found object>
  • [Forever]
  • [If then]